It’s been a ‘lost spring’ for local golfers

Contributed Story Posted 2 May 2014 at 12:00 am

This Week at Shelridge

Photo contributed – Becky Fike and Jackie Harmon of the Shelridge Women’s Golf Association present a scholarship to Brianna Darnell of Lockport High as her mother looks on.

Bob “Pinky” Wilson, a Shelridge member for many years, walked into the club’s bag room Wednesday afternoon and fished out his well worn golf shoes. Looking over his shoulder he told AssistantPro Dave Rose, “I’m really bored and if I take these home and clean ’em it will make me feel better.”

Pinky shares the same feeling as all of the Western New York golf fraternity which suffered not only a very, very harsh winter, but has been idle through a spring of cold and rainy days. Clubs have been dreary and empty as leagues and tournaments have been postponed. It can be called a “lost spring” for golf.

While the frigid winter did serious harm to some courses, and some clubs are actually re-building certain greens after ice damage, Shelridge escaped the worst.

“We don’t have damaged greens, but any winter that cold is bound to cause problems,” said Brad Balschmiter, the SCC grounds boss. “The average spring in the past decade has been a dry period but not this time,” he continued. “The regular club opening can be saved, but 2014 has not had a happy pre-season warm-up.”

He said the extensive drainage work of recent years paid off in lessening some ice problems in the winter. He said the best thing he can say at present is that the maintenance department has saved gasoline money because mowing has been way down.

Brad is one of several veteran staff members who are back this season and he is close to his 30th anniversary as a certified turf expert. He will soon welcome a 10-member maintenance crew and it will include a new mechanic, Nick Hemming.

In the pro shop some history has been made. Shelridge is entering its 55th season and this will be the first time over all those years that the club has had two card-holding PGA professionals on staff at the same time. Dave Green now has a decade as head pro and Dave Rose, his assistant, just recently got his PGA card after three or four years of study. Green is slated for some short-term surgery this month, but during the rainy spring he mapped out a busy and ambitious schedule of club events hopefully ready to emerge in the coming week.

Tomorrow’s Season Opening Scramble has been iffy due to course conditions, but next week three league schedules will open. The Teacher’s League under Bill Ossont opens Tuesday, the SWGA ladies league opens Wednesday and the Thursday Men’s League starts the next day. On Friday, May 16, the popular Couple’s League will begin and this year it will be governed by shotgun start to increase the sociability of the evening and permit players to dine together after their round.

The club schedule of events for 2014 places the usual emphasis on “family golfing” that Pro Dave Green has promoted for years and a big part will be played by the Shelridge Women’s Golf Assn. That group, with 35 members, held an opening “tee” last Saturday and elected Val Peters president. As for the youngsters, the Junior Program of eight weeks will open in July.

Sign-up sheets are posted for the major men’s event called the Spring Member-Member (June 7-8). This best-ball handicap tourney goes far back in club history and no details are spared in the planning. After the Saturday round the teams will be placed in flights and winners of those flights will enter a sudden-death playoff to end the tournament.

Short Shots

• The bar and dining room of the club will again be under lease to Mike Zambito, owner of restaurants in Medina and Lockport. He labels the golf club operation as “The Bistro at Shelridge”.

• Over a dozen non-club tournaments will play on the SCC turf this season and most all have been scheduled on Saturday afternoons to fit better with the regular club schedule.